A recent study has found medical marijuana effectively reduces stress, and implicated the medication may be safer in reducing anxiety than traditional anxiety medications. In the study, researchers measured levels of stress by tracking the amounts of cortisol, a “stress hormone,” in participants’ saliva. Participants were divided into two groups, those who used marijuana daily and those who abstained from use, and the results remained consistent throughout the study. Regular marijuana users had a reduced response to acute stress. Study co-author and clinical assistant of psychology Carrie Cuttler explains, “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the effects of acute stress on salivary cortisol levels in chronic cannabis users compared to non-users…. While we are not at a point where we are comfortable saying whether this muted stress response is a good thing or a bad thing, our work is an important first step in investigating potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis at a time when its use is spreading faster than ever before.”
These findings support previous research that determined compounds in marijuana like CBD can enhance the effects of the neurotransmitter GABA, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that holds back anxiety and counterbalances the effects of excitatory brain chemical. This mimics the effects of anti-anxiety medications like Benzodiazepines, but with fewer risks and side effects. Future research is left to be desired, but these early findings are hopeful, suggesting marijuana may offer anxiety and stress relief without resulting in dependency or producing severe or even fatal side effects.
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